To assist musicians as they express themselves on their chosen platform, is very purpose driven. Tip of the hat to your willingness to serve those you relate so well with. You will do exceptionally well, enjoy your journey as you without doubt will uplift others! wade-bergner.com. Namaste, Wade
Freedom For Musicians is well into changing the world of “Notes”.
Seems to be an affair of the heart where you are pouring in everything you have. And the results are coming through load and crystal clear.
Amazing how proud you should be the emotions behind which are like music to my ears.
Susan Patricia Connor Lewis
Director / firstname.lastname@example.org
What an amazing site!
I love the energy of it! I am not a musician myself, but I do love music. Your site is easy to navigate and it’s easy to find everything I was looking for. The best thing is I have found some new music that I really love – the artists are amazing and I’ll be keeping a close on the updates! I look forward to checking through more of some of your amazing music. Thankyou!
Karen and Jacky
Thanks for providing a fabulous platform
As a musician myself I really love what I’m seeing here. I don’t perform professionally any more but did so for many years with my partner. These days we still write, record and play and are in the process of creating an archive website for our back catalog to live on. We were slogging away way before Facebook, Youtube and all the other social platforms existed.
A Quiet Revolution
Freedom for Musicians seems like a really innovative concept for musicians to promote and distribute their digital music. I admire the work you are doing in this industry to solve the problem of exploitation by the big labels and distributors. I look forward to seeing the success of Freedom for Musicians.
The Pearl e/Merge Traditional Electronic Drum Kit, Powered By Korg is a brand new electronic drum kit that takes a huge step forward in the progression towards an electronic kit that feels and responds like an acoustic kit. Pearl have worked with Korg, taking features from their legendary Wave Drum to provide pads that feel and respond in the same manner that acoustic kits do.
Wave Trigger Technology allows the e/Merge Electronic Drum kit to respond to your touch and the vibrations you create when playing. This is complemented by Pearl’s new PUREtouch Electronic Pad System that feature six layers of material that combine to provide the most natural feeling electronic drum pad available on the market today. All of the incredibly advanced features on the kit require an equally advanced drum module.
The module features a huge array of 700 high definition voices, 35 high definition preset drum kits and 36 different effects. Pearl have created an entirely new sound library, recorded in one of the world’s most respected and renowned recording studios, Music City USA in Nashville, Tennessee
PUREtouch Electronic Pad System
The PUREtouch Electronic Pad System is a new creation, developed by Pearl and Korg to provide drummers with a pad surface that sits perfectly between being too bouncy and soaking up the force of the stick. The PUREtouch electronic pads are constructed from six layers of material that work together to create the most natural feeling electronic pad available today. Every area of the snare head acts and responds the same way that an acoustic snare does, from the center to the edge. The head tension can be made tighter or looser to vary the feel and the tone, allowing you to adapt the kit to your play style, and not the other way around as you had to with the majority of other electronic drum kits. The snare pad features two separate rim triggers that are perfectly positioned to offer cross stick and rim shot effects, all fitted to a 14” pad to provide the most authentic playing experience possible.
Wave Trigger Technology
Pearl have worked alongside Korg, taking features from their legendary Wave Drum, to provide electric pads that respond and feel like an acoustic drum kit. This has long been the aim of all electric drums and has also been the request of drummers since electric kits were first introduced. The features of Korg’s Wave Drum allowed your touch, your feel and the vibrations you create when played to influence the tone and character of the sounds produced. Pearl have implemented this technology across all of the pads on the e/MERGE Electronic Kit. This technology has been named Wave Trigger Technology and allows every nuance of your playing style, and even your stick choice, to influence how the sounds are produced.
e/MERGE MDL-1 Module
All of the incredibly advanced features on the e/Merge Traditional Electronic Drum Kit require an equally advanced drum module. Pearl have created the e/Merge MDL-1 Module to power the kit, providing all the power and performance required housed in a simplistic, easy to use interface. The module features a pair of multi-core processors and is filled with a large array of 700 different high definition voices, 35 high definition preset drum kits and 36 different effects. Pearl have recorded an entirely new library for the e/MERGE in the most respected and renowned recording studios, Music City USA in Nashville, Tennessee, ensuring that they match the incredibly advanced technology featured in the e/Merge kit. Pearl have also combined a selection of sounds from Korg’s renowned high definition library, ranging from electronic, orchestral, world and other sounds.
PUREtouch Electronic Cymbal Pack
Each e/Merge Electronic Drum Kit includes a PUREtouch Electronic Cymbal pack. Consisting of an 18” three zone ride, a 15” two zone crash and 14” two zone hi-hats. The PUREtouch ride and crash cymbals feature a natural, authentic playing action with a slightly softer feel due to the rubber casing to control the volume. The cymbals all feature frequency based zone blending consistent with where you strike the cymbal. The PUREtouch cymbals also feature a natural cymbal choke function where choking the cymbals eliminates the sound and instantaneously triggers the natural ring inherent to choking natural cymbals, providing the most authentic electronic cymbals yet.
Incredibly advanced features provide authentic and responsive playing experience
Uses features from Korg’s Wave Drum for a powerfully natural feel
PUREtouch cymbals ride and crash cymbals feature zone blending and choking
Features 700 different HD sounds, 35 preset kits & 36 effects recorded in Music City, Nashville
Play your own WAV samples via USB-A
Electronic bass pad swivel legs provide complete customisation
Icon e-Rack provides complete flexibility, security and the option to expand your kit
Drum Module: e/Merge MDL-1
Snare Pad: PUREtouch EM-14S 14” Snare Drum Pad
Tom Pad 1: PUREtouch EM-10T 10” Tom Pad
Tom Pad 2: PUREtouch EM-12T 12” Tom Pad
Tom Pad 3: PUREtouch EM-14T 14” Tom Pad
Bass Drum Pad: PUREtouch EM-KCPC Kick Pad
Hi-Hat: PUREtouch EM-14HH 14” Hi-Hat Cymbal Pad Set
The band was formed in 1981 and is made up of former musicians from the seven regiments of Her Majesty’s Household Division Bands namely:- The Life Guards, Blues and Royals (now the Household Cavalry Band), Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards Bands. The present Household Division Musicians Association Band follows a long tradition of music making by musicians from these famous regiments.
Most of the members are still playing in leading London Orchestras, London Theatres, or teaching in music colleges and schools throughout the country.
The Band performs at numerous public and private engagements, most notably The Chelsea Flower Show, Eastbourne Bandstand, and at The Royal Hospital Chelsea. The Band rehearses at The Royal Hospital Chelsea, with which it is proud to be associated.
The band rehearses once a month on a Sunday morning from 10.30am – 12.30pm at The Band Room at The Royal Hospital Chelsea.
David began his musical career at the age of 13 as a trombonist for Barnstaple Town Military Band and Bideford Town Brass Band. In 1987, he joined the Army and was posted to the Band of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment. During his two years at the Royal Military School of Music, David took a change of course, studying flute and classical piano under Graham Mayger and Veronica Clayton respectively. It was while he was at Kneller Hall that David discovered his passion for writing band arrangements.
After postings to Northern Ireland and Cyprus in the early nineties, David successfully passed an audition for the Life Guards Band of the Household Cavalry. During a series of summer concerts for the Household Cavalry band, David was persuaded by the Director of Music to take yet another musical change: he became the principal oboist of the Band, a position that he held until he left the army in 1998. During his military service he has performed all around the world, playing for all the members of the Royal Family, The Lord Mayor of London, as well as countless Ambassadors and diplomats.
The year provided a range of visually daring, often audacious videos that were also able to provide powerful social commentary. Here’s our pick of the 10 best
By Jonathan Bernstein
“Videos now provide a consciousness and a need to stand out, where in the past they didn’t as much,” said Dave Meyers, one of 2017’s most acclaimed music video directors, earlier this year. “They sort of were spectacles. Now, they carry a truth with them.”
Meyers, who worked with artists like Kendrick Lamar and SZA to create some of 2017’s most inspired videos, leads this year’s class of music videos that helped elevate, illuminate, and inform their accompany songs, from the powerful social commentary in Jay-Z’s animated The Story of OJ to the gender role reversals in Charli XCX’s cameo-filled Boys.
Meanwhile, this year witnessed artists like Björk and Grimes continue to stretch the creative and imaginative possibilities of the video format with visually arresting works that continue to push the medium forward. But some of this year’s best videos were also simple visual statements – sometimes just a single shot – that deepened the story the artists were trying to tell in their music.
Jay-Z – The Story of OJ
Haim – Want You Back
For the lead single to the band’s second album, a single tracking shot of the band dancing and strolling down a deserted street, the Haim sisters knew they wanted to pay tribute to Los Angeles’ Ventura Boulevard, the site of some of their favorite music videos. But after a test run of an early idea that involved elaborate car stunts resulted in a crash after a trial run, the band decided to try something a bit more simple. “After a week of being like, ‘So, that didn’t work, [we thought] ‘What is a safer thing we could do?” Alana Haim explained. “We could walk!” Fourteen takes later, the group had come up with one of the year’s most memorable videos.
Kelela – LMK
The first single from Kelela’s debut LP Take Me Apart was an “ode to all the ladies who aren’t trying to go that deep but also still want to have respectful interactions,” according to the singer. “The point of this song is to give us an anthem to sing in that space.” For the futuristic video, which finds the singer donning a series of wigs as she moves through a series of narrow hallways in a club, Kelela enlisted Björk collaborator Andrew Thomas Huang. “The message of this video is empowerment,” the director said. “It’s for the girls, for anyone whose heart has been trampled on and deserves to go out and feel good about themselves.”
Kendrick Lamar – Humble
Over the past several years, Kendrick Lamar has consistently made some of the most innovative and engaging music videos out there. For his lead single to Damn, Lamar enlisted Dave Meyers, who would also go on to direct the rapper’s Loyalty. The frenetic video, which runs through a series of scenes including Lamar recreating Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, would go on to win the VMA for Video of the Year. “The initial idea was to go off one of my favorite words: contradiction,” Lamar explained of the video. “Everything is symbolism based off contradiction. When you listen to the actual lyrics and you see the visuals behind it, you know they fight against each other. That’s what makes it unique to me.”
Torres – Skim
The first glimpse of Torres’ new electronic-leaning sound on her third album Three Futures came in the form of Skim, a thumping meditation on longing and sexuality. For the striking video, the Georgia-bred singer enlisted noted indie rock director Ashley Connor (Mitski, Angel Olsen) for a visual exploration that encapsulated many of the themes the singer wrestles with on her new album. “The video – and the song itself – is about desire,” Torres said. “It’s basically about exploring all the dark corners of the mind and of the subconscious, and making sure that you’re not fooling yourself, you’re not hiding from yourself.”
Charli XCX – Boys
The video for Boys – a sparse, straightforward pop song about boy crushes – was one of the year’s most star-studded videos. The dozens of men featured in the gender-role-reversing video, co-directed by Charli XCX herself, included Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Joe Jonas, Mark Ronson, Will.i.am, Riz Ahmed, and Ezra Koenig. “They’re basically doing all the sexy things that girls usually do in videos,” said the singer. “I just want to flip the male gaze on its head and have you guys do the sexy stuff.”
Dua Lipa – New Rules
The viral single from Dua Lipa proved that, even in 2017, music videos can still provide key breakthroughs for new artists. For New Rules, the singer enlisted the director Henry Scholfield for her portrayal of post-breakup female companionship. “We worked to bring that narrative of togetherness and empowerment into our choreography,” said the director. Much of the success of the New Rules video can be chalked up to the way Dua Lipa sought out a video that so perfectly matched the song’s message. “I loved the idea of girls looking after each other,” said the singer, “holding each other, that sense of humility, that sense of strength.”
SZA – Drew Barrymore
“We wanted something bold, brown grunge,” SZA said of the lead single to her breakthrough album Ctrl, “1990s films, sad scenes, and thoughts.” For the melancholy Drew Barrymore, the singer enlisted noted director Dave Meyers (Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, OutKast), who helped come up with the video’s setting. In a series of hungover morning-after scenes in New York, SZA and her friends go sledding, get pizza, and hang out on a freezing rooftop. At one point, Drew Barrymore herself even makes a cameo.
Young Thug – Wyclef Jean
When the Atlanta rapper teamed up with director Ryan Staake (Lil Wayne, Schoolboy Q) to film the video for his second single to Jeffery, the rapper did not know that his video would end up becoming a humorous meta commentary on music video excess and outsized major label ambition. But when Young Thug ended up being a no-show for his own video shoot despite providing the director with a series of idiosyncratic set choices, Staake decided to turn the disastrous situation into an opportunity for a comedic video with a series of narrated subtitles outlining the director’s mishaps. “As annoyed as I was on set,” explained Staake, “in the end, [Young Thug’s] creative broad stroke of simply not showing up made this video.”
At FFM, we want to highlight new and aspiring musical talent wherever we find it and where better than the many Music Colleges, Universities and Schools around the world. Our new feature ‘Spotlight on a Music Student’ is an opportunity for you or someone you know to step into the spotlight and share your talent, dreams and ambitions with the musical world.
All you have to do is send us your information, pictures, videos, sound clips and links and we will compile your feature.
If you’ve ever been in a band, you know the sharp pain of pinching your fingers trying to carry a giant kick drum through a door frame. You thought drummers had ripped arms from whipping wooden sticks around in the air? Think again. When they move their equipment from show to show, they’re essentially Olympic crossfitters.
But now, thanks to Specdrums, a Boulder-based music hardware startup, percussionists are about to get flabbier. Well — hopefully not, but seriously: Specdrums created rings for the finger-tappers of the world to play drums wherever there’s color.
That’s right. Wear a Specdrums ring like Frodo Baggins and tap the color “blue” and you could hear the crash of a cymbal or the rap of a snare. It all depends on the sounds you assign to each color in the app.
Steven Dourmashkin, a Cornell graduate with a mechanical engineering degree, who sat at his first drum set in sixth grade. He wasn’t a famous drummer. He didn’t tour across the country on the big stages. He was just an average player in the high school concert band.
“I was more of a casual drummer,” said Dourmashkin, recalling how he’d practice his double strokes on a pillow to improve his chops. Dourmashkin is tall and built like an indie metalhead but thoughtful and professional like an Apple Store salesperson.
While working on his masters at Cornell, he wrestled with the question that plagued so many drummers: How do I make drums more portable and affordable?
“The goal was to create a lower barrier to entry for new drummers, since drums can be a very large investment and parents may not want to buy a full set for thousands of dollars just to have their child lose interest a month later,” he said.
The lightbulb moment
The early prototype of Specdrums was a kind of “air drums” where a sensor would measure the movement of a stick and trigger a corresponding sound. But the technology always had trouble with absolute position: where did one drum start and another end? It was very unintuitive and unreliable, said the founder.
He tried attaching a black and white photo sensor to a finger ring. But there’s not much you can do with two options: Back, black, white, black, black, white — gets old really quick.
One day, “When we were giving a demo, a ‘lightbulb’ went off when we realized you could just use the colors around you,” said Dourmashkin. He immediately began prototyping a bluetooth ring that detects colors and an app that links a sound to each color. For example, the Specdrums logo — four colored circles in quadrants — can double as a four-piece drum set. Blue can be a bass drum, green a snare drum, and so on. Basically, if it has color, it can make a sound using Specdrums’ technology.
Nothing like this existed. Drumpants let users strap pads anywhere on their bodies to trigger sounds (i.e., your thighs become drum pads) and Freedrumsmade something to clip to a drumstick for a real-life air drums experience. However, nothing used colors, like an assortment of Red Bull cans, to create a digital drumset.
With a dinky prototype, Dourmashkin knew he needed to make his operation official in February 2016. “We knew it was time to incorporate when we started showing more people and preparing for a Kickstarter. We incorporated to have a bank account and file the utility patent under the company.”
Would you rather pursue a PhD or a startup?
The 24-year-old moved out to Boulder, CO to get his PhD in engineering. A year later he found himself divided.
“I was doing both half and half,” said Dourmashkin. “It wasn’t working and finally got to the point where I needed to choose one and focus.”
I had interviewed another ambitious 24-year-old founder who chose to finish his education first before jumping full-force into a startup. But Dourmashkin had different thoughts.
“A PhD is different from a bachelor’s degree in that if [the startup] fails, I still had a degree. You can come back and get a PhD anytime in life, but you can’t really come back to a startup. This is time sensitive and the momentum may never return. It’s like we have one chance.”
With mind made up, Dourmashkin tabled his doctorate program and focused on making a Kickstarter campaign for Specdrums as successful as possible.
The key to Kickstarter success
In August 2017, he and his four teammates launched on Kickstarter with the goal of raising $15,000.
Less than two months later, the campaign ended with a whopping $188,944.
Why did it work?
The engineer said the key to a successful Kickstarter is patience and bloggers. “We wanted to launch a year ago but instead started building an email list,” he said. During that time, they contacted other Kickstarter champions and asked for advice.
The advice: prove the product beforehand. Many Kickstarters fail because they’re unproven ideas.
Dourmashkin hired a Kickstarter consultant from New York and worked out a profit-sharing deal. They built out a beautiful and detailed campaign page and set up social channels. As the launch date approached, the email list was 500 people — not too shabby but not significant. The tour de force that powered their campaign was a list of 100 bloggers.
“We looked at similar Kickstarter projects and contacted the bloggers that covered them,” said Dourmashkin. “Especially right before we launched. Blogs like AppAudio started writing about us and our consultant got us into NowThis. The video received six million views. It was a snowballing effect from there.”
How a young founder finds a reliable manufacturer
With money raised, the next big obstacle was manufacturing. How does a young person go about manufacturing thousands of products? Until now, Dourmashkin had soldered every ring by hand. “It was tedious,” he said.
Dourmashkin found MacroFab, a small batch manufacturer out of Houston, by sifting through blogs and asked them to make 10 prototypes. When he received the first shipment, the young CEO couldn’t have been happier.
“Other manufacturers usually have a 100 unit minimum and expensive set up fees. MacroFab specializes in orders of less than 10,000 and they help with packaging and fulfillment, too.”
Besides, overseas manufacturing sounded scary to Dourmashkin. “I’ve heard stories of companies that’ve gone to China too quickly and have found out the factory next door started making an exact copy of their product.”
Yikes. Thank you, MacroFab.
Press coverage explodes
Funding and manufacturing in place, a hurricane of press picked up the colorful music tech startup and plastered it all over the web, including Mashable, The Verge, Business Insider, and Nickelodeon.
Word was getting out rapidly. Then the clincher happened: Specdrums wonRed Bull’s Launchpad 2017 competition, a program designed to “give wings” to collegiate entrepreneurs. Part of the winnings included flying out to global tech conference TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, a promise land flowing with tech startups and investors.
A big conference for an early-stage startup like Specdrums is a mixed bag. It’s great for marketing and networking, but there are also risks of having the idea stolen. “It’s a little concerning,” said Dourmashkin about Disrupt. He said the patent helps, but the exposure also means risk of copycatters. “That’s why speed is key.”
To raise money or not to raise money
Nothing oils the gears of a growing startup better than a few million bucks in the bank, right? But Dourmashkin wasn’t feeling the fundraising route at the moment.
“I decided in terms of scaling at a rate we can handle the best thing to do is to continue bootstrapping. The Kickstarter gave us enough to manufacture. We’re profitable. So right now, we’re focused on hiring a developer and working with consultants to get the app and the hardware to be the best they can be.”
Today, Dourmashkin and his team opened up pre-orders on their own website and are busy prepping to ship the first big order to backers in mid-December.
The future holds a number of new features, including new instruments as in-app purchases, importing and sharing your own sounds, and partnerships with companies like Harmonics, the creators of digital music game Rockband.
“It’s pretty open-ended right now and that’s the point,” said Dourmashkin. Probably not a bad idea when their audience is so diverse, ranging from parents of young kids, to teachers, and live performers.
In the meantime, Dourmashkin has his eye on another accelerator in Los Angeles, a place where the music performance industry is hot. He’s also hoping to find a mentor.
What is your “I made it” moment?
I always like to end interviews by asking founders what the moment would look like when they realize they’ve found true success. Dourmashkin said retail expansion.
“But what store?” I asked.
“Apple,” he replied immediately and I could tell he’d already thought about it. “The intuitive design, no-buttons, and accessibility seem to match our brand.”
“Do you consider yourself an ambitious person?” I asked.
That was it. In typical “mechie” fashion, he didn’t elaborate any further. He didn’t need to. It’s this kind of matter-of-fact, uninflated self-awareness that undergirds entrepreneurs to burn the midnight oil (or crush the 2 a.m. Red Bull, in Specdrums’ case).
I suppose one would have to be somewhat ambitious to get into an Apple Store… as far as I know there’s only one way to get your product on the same shelves as the iPhone X: acquisition. Who knows what’ll happen.
Tornados generally have a knack of leaving behind a trail of roof tiles and displaced livestock, but so far Australian producer Tornado Wallace has left behind one of the most varied back catalogues on labels like Beats in Space, LateNightTales, ESP Institute, Second Circle and, just weeks ago, delivered his brilliant first full length LP on Running Back. Originally from Melbourne and part of the Animals Dancing crew (makers of the best music T-shirts in the Southern Hemisphere, two years ago he made the move to Berlin.
Seeming to master any style he chooses, from chugging acid electro, stomping Aussie Bush techno or funk that could have been stolen straight from Prince’s vaults, we set out to find out how he does it. You can also sample some photos of his studio as you read the in-depth interview.
Tornado Wallace – Lonely Planet LP is out now on Running Back and available from Juno. Catch TW at Farr Festival 2017 (13th-15th July).
Hi Tornado, thanks for the photo of your studio. Let’s get straight to business – how do you do it? Talk us through what we can see.
Well this is my studio in Berlin that I share with Luca Lozano. I moved two years ago from Melbourne where I still have a lot of my favourite bits of gear, but I wanted to start fresh as I was finding myself too dependent on some certain sounds. So I have a motley crew of hardware that all has a particular role in doing the things that I want them to. Everything is wired up to the patch bay which I can then send through mixer channels and then into the RME UFX Fireface where I can have the various sounds coming through split channels in Ableton. All midi-synths are running through a MOTU midi-interface and I use the Sync-Gen to sync the drum boxes with the Ableton clock.
Where is your studio located? Do you go for the home studio, making tracks in your dressing gown over breakfast, or do you have your own separate space where you escape to create?
It’s in a separate space behind a bar about a five minute walk from where I live. There are some other studios in there too.
Have you made any special non-musical touches to make it feel like a productive workspace?
Yes my girlfriend and I found a cool fake plant store at this massive Vietnamese warehouse complex in Lichtenberg, so I bought up on the stuff to help create a vibe. There’s very little sunlight and Lucas and I travel a lot so we can’t be trusted to rear real plants.
A lot of your music has an abundance of space, something not going short in Australia. How do you go about that? Is it samples, field recordings, or all original copyright T Wallace magic?
It all comes down to the mix really. Making sure everything has some space to breathe. Sometimes it takes some discipline to keep something you think is really cool very low in the mix for the sake of the track’s sound. But yeah I’m not one to shy away from any audio resource available to me be it phone recordings, samples, EQing, reverbs/delays etc.
What’s your approach to working with samples? Do you build tracks around them, or add them as a garnish to an existing idea?
Yeah I’ll generally find a little something interesting in a record store or online – a little percussion loop or a pad or effect – and switch on the machines and jam over a four bar loop until there’s something worth expanding on. I’m a massive fan of sampling and usually find, ironically, that it’s the best way to make something sound unique.
Speaking of samples, you were behind the sensational Aussie bush anthem ‘Kookaburra’. What’s the story behind that one?
I was working on a track with Tom Moore (the other half of Coober Pedy University Band) and it was really taking a lot of work and not really gelling together even though we’d spent hours and hours on it. We decided that it might be fun to try make a ‘tool’ version of the track, so we took out the best bits which was some afro percussion loops, a didgeridoo sample that we lifted off a German made Australian library record that I bought in Amsterdam, and then added a big 909 kick drum underneath it all. It was sounding OK but it was missing something so we thought we’d try add an Australian bird sound. Of course we went straight for the most famous Australian bird sound – the Kookaburra – which we ripped from a Youtube video. The idea was to put it low in the mix and have it be a subtle little addition, but when we dropped it into the project, Ableton had automatically tried to quantize it and it sat very up front in the mix. It was never the plan but it sounded great/stupid/ridiculous so we moved it around a bit and it turned out to be the cherry on the cake. From starting the new project to finishing it took about 2-3 hours.
You made the jump from Australia to Berlin in the last few years. Have the new surroundings affected the type of music you want to make?
Only in a way that going through a bit of change like moving to the other side of the world has affected me in terms of personal development and maturity. But I don’t think that the specific surroundings in Berlin have had much of an influence on the sound of my music very much.
RA held an interesting round table about ‘Process vs inspiration’ – where does your inspiration come from in the studio? Do you have a process that you follow? And how do you go about balancing the two?
I go through phases where I’m really influenced by something and for a few days or a week or something I’ll get really caught up in an idea and experiment with that sound and usually wind up with a few new tracks. But that doesn’t happen too often and usually I follow a loose process like the one I mentioned earlier about finding a weird sample and building ideas around it. It’s a nice way to create something unique when the inspiration just isn’t making itself too aware.
What was your original set up when you first made tracks? Were you a laptop only wizard, or did you go straight for hardware?
I was 15 and I used my school laptop with a demo copy of Fruityloops and Cool Edit Pro I got in a Computer Music magazine. I could move around pretty well on those programs but it wasn’t until years later when I added a bit of hardware that I started making music that I felt was good enough to be heard by other people.
What was the first serious piece of kit you bought?
I had bought guitars and drumkits and various percussion instruments and effects pedals throughout my teens but the first electronic piece of kit I bought was a microkorg.
Do you fetishise that old sound, or put your faith in new technology? What’s your current split like between software and hardware?
I like technology that has its limits. The problem with some newer technology is that there’s so much you can do with one machine, but it doesn’t necessarily do any one thing particularly well. Developers have realised this along the way though, which is why you now see the main manufacturers remaking older gear that have their limitations and their strengths. I have various bits and bobs in the studio that can do their one thing particularly well, whether it’s the Cruise for it’s strings, the Kurzweil K2000R for it’s digital pads/leads or the Chroma Polaris for analogue SFX and basslines. I use some software for effects but I don’t use VSTs, purely because I like generating sounds with a more tactile approach rather than a belief one sounds better than the other.
What kit do you think is a modern classic?
I don’t have too many new bits in my studio nor have I played around with many new pieces so I don’t think I can think of one.
Are you always seeking to experiment and develop your studio? If money were no object what would you add?
Yes definitely, there’s always more money that can be spent, mostly on more cables and cv/midi converters and things that make the process a bit smoother rather than anything particularly interesting. But I’m pretty happy with the way things are at the moment. If money were no object I’d probably just get some things I still have in Australia sent over like my Prophet 5 or my Arp Odyssey.
What impact have some recent changes made in your approach and sounds?
The patchbay is a new addition. And for the first time I can easily patch things through an FX chain without having to muck around for ages. So it’ll be nice to incorporate the Filterbank, Space Echo and DPX into the workflow more easily.
You must have a most treasured bit of equipment. If you had to keep just one piece, what would it be?
Maybe the Matrix 1000 or the 808. They’ve been with me the longest and I’ve used them the most so there’s that sentimentality value as well as both being badass.
The new album is a masterpiece, something not just inside the club walls. A first album is a big step for any artist, but it must be especially hard when it deviates from a club-centric sound you’ve made your name on. What were your sonic intentions with this album and what else were you listening to during its inception?
The LP is a product of several years of working on music for both listening at home and dancing to in a club. Along the way some of the tracks that I didn’t want to previously release started making sense together and the idea of making an album formed and then it was just a matter of finishing it with a couple of extra tracks and some mixing down. So along the way I was listening to lots of different music but I think the most influential on how it ended up were artists that I’ve been listening to over many years, like Dire Straits, Wally Badarou, Daft Punk, Sade, Boards Of Canada.
How involved was Gerd and Running Back in the creative direction of the album?
Gerd came in late in the picture actually. I had finished the album before I approached him. We had talked about doing things in the past but it hadn’t worked out so this time we were both keen and we had pretty much informally agreed to do the LP before he had listened to the tracks.
The guest vocal with Sui Zhen is a real highlight. Do you take a different approach working with a singer? And do you have more plans to go down that route?
I’ve never really worked with a singer before but I had an idea for this track to be like a wavey, 80s synth pop track, and to really bring that home I felt a vocal was needed. Sui Zhen is a very talented vocalist and can pretty much twist her voice to how it’s needed and for Today we felt like a Nina Hagen/Laurie Anderson sound would be cool. She got the vibe and we had a chat about how it should go with the track and she came up with a really cool lyrical direction and that was that. She recorded it with quite a few variations and I arranged it in the studio. I don’t think it would normally be that cool/easy working with someone, so I’m not in a hurry to try it again (unless is was Sui Zhen again). That and generally I have a habit of listening to mostly instrumental music.
Are you considering performing the album live? What would you bring from the studio to the live set up?
No I’ve got no plans to do a live show any time soon. I’ve heard too many horror stories from other artists. But I also love DJing and that makes more sense for me relating to an audience at the moment.
Beyond the album, what other plans are afoot for the rest of 2017?
Maybe a remix single from the album, and an EP for Animals Dancing, hopefully something from Coober Pedy University Band. Otherwise I’m going to keep the focus on DJing and traveling around with that for the year.